New Year’s Day is the oldest and most universal holiday. Throughout early history, cycles of planting and harvesting provided a primitive way to keep track of years. For many cultures, the new year was celebrated in March on the vernal equinox when the sun crosses the equator in the spring and when night and day are of roughly equal length everywhere.
The Romans were the first to observe Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day in 153 B.C., according to Hallmark research. Julius Caesar developed the Julian calendar in 45 B.C., retaining Jan. 1 as the beginning of the new year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian calendar still in use today, keeping Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day.
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